Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?

Featured image: Totally a real screenshot from the film and not some crazy cosplaying by GeshaPetrovich.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Screenplay by Sukehiro Tomita. Starring Kotono Mitsuishi, Aya Hisakawa, and Michie Tomizawa. Toei Animation, 1993. In limited release from Viz Media, 2017. Dubbed. Runtime 78 minutes. Rated PG.

We’ll get to the meaning of the deliberately provocative clickbait title of this review in a moment. But first, let’s cover the preliminaries.

So, I just saw Sailor Moon R: The Movie, the first North American theatrical release of a Sailor Moon film, courtesy of Viz Media, which now owns the North American distribution rights. The film originally came out in 1993 and runs a mere hour and eighteen minutes. I hope some other showings around the country are more successful than the one I attended, or Viz Media is going to go broke, and I don’t want them to go broke until they finish releasing the series. Continue reading “Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?”

Sequel to ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ Is Coming … Prepare Yourselves

Featured image: “Cardcaptor Sakura Fanart” by Daikazoku63

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the biggest titles in the magical girl genre. It was the first foray into mahou shoujo manga by the unbelievably prolific four-woman team Clamp, which produced it from 1996 to 2000. Its anime adaptation, which began airing in 1998, is one of the few TV cartoons that can hold up in terms of technical quality more than a decade after its run. The anime adds a great deal to the story; some of it is padding, but a lot of it is real improvement. A sliced, diced, and dubbed version was released in English under the title of Cardcaptors.

For reasons I’ll explain in a post I was working on for today but didn’t get finished, I don’t care much for Cardcaptor Sakura. Nonetheless, I must announce that after all this time, Clamp is adding a third arc to the story, the “Clear Card Arc,” currently underway. The first collected volume appeared in Japan last month. I don’t believe any English translation has appeared as of yet.

An anime adaptation is slated to begin in January of 2018. Plan is to bring back director Morio Asaka and round up much of the original voice cast. The Cardcaptor Sakura anime had very good production values, so bringing back the old-timers rather than getting fresh blood seems to be a good move. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The original story featured its heroine in fourth and fifth grade, gradually powering up as she collects the “Clow Cards,” each of which contains a magic spell. The sequel now has her in middle school.

While many fans are excited, I’m scared. What is Clamp going to do to that poor girl now? She barely escaped all those perverts last time. I’m especially worried about Tomoyo, her obsessive best friend who at first seems to be an innocent little ten-year-old girl until Clamp casually drops the bombshell that she’s a monomaniacal lesbian stalker with a costume fetish and a penchant for voyeurism. Is this going to be the story arc where she hides a camera in Sakura’s bathroom or something?

‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Update

I have successfully purchased my theater ticket for the first American theatrical release of a Sailor Moon film, which runs under the impressive title of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose: Really Long Name for a Cartoon: It Just Keep Going: Holy Friggin’ Cow: How Many Colons Is That?

Okay, I’m kidding. I think they’re just calling it Sailor Moon R: The Movie for this release, but “The Promise of the Rose” was slapped onto the American release the first time around. This theatrical presentation will also include the first-ever American showing of the short film Make Up! Sailor Soldier, which according to Infogalactic is basically a recap episode for anyone who might be seeing the movie without having watched any of the TV series first.

Except instead of “soldier,” I think the official translation is “guardian” now, which I kind of hate. Admittedly, “sailor soldier” sounds dumb in English, but still.

And while we’re on the subject, it is ironic that, according to Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.,* sailors view soldiers with contempt and even use “soldier” as an insult meaning “lazy good-for-nothing.” To mimic the sailors’ slangy speech, Dana renders the word soldier as “soger.” According to him, the captain of a sailing vessel might even punish an especially lazy crewman by making him march up and down on the deck, holding a marlin spike as if it were a rifle. Such a humiliation is sufficient to break some men.

… And that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Anyway, speaking of laziness, it’s kind of an epic journey to the theater from where I am, but barring some unforeseen contingency, I should be able to make it. I will put in every effort to do so, as I wouldn’t want to be seen as lazy like a soldier. Or sailor. Or sailor soldier. Or whatever.

It will no doubt be a great thrill at last to see a magical girl in the theater … and for that matter, to hear the new dub for the first time.  I’ve been watching Sailor Moon in the Japanese with subtitles. I don’t really like to indulge in the perpetual play-fighting of otaku over sub vs. dub (if anyone really cares that much, let him take the time to learn Japanese), but switching from one to the other will no doubt be jarring.

I’m really looking forward to this. It is supposed to be the best of the Sailor Moon movies.

*And no, Dana Volt is not named after Richard Henry Dana.

‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: The Final Verdict

It’s a bloody mess.

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 11, “Server Down for Maintenance” and Episode 12, “File Not Found.” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Two episodes of 24 minutes (approx. 48 minutes). Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

I was going to review this earlier in the week, but my Flash player kept crashing for some reason. Anyway, let’s get this over with so I can get back to injecting Sailor Moon S straight into my bloodstream. As I mentioned before, Magical Girl Raising Project gave me a hankering for Sailor Moon S, and then Viz Media turned around and supplied.

I’m a heroine addict, and these distribution companies are my dealers.

Here be spoilers. Since we’re talking about the two final episodes, I assume that’s obvious.

Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: The Final Verdict”

‘Sailor Moon Crystal,’ Season 3: The Final Verdict

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, Episodes 34 to 39. Toei Animation, 2016. Approx. 144 minutes. Available on Crunchyroll.

Viz Media has finally, after taking its sweet time, produced the full, uncensored release of the first half of Sailor Moon S, the 1990s anime series that roughly follows the third, “Infinity” arc of the Sailor Moon manga. So now seems to be a good time to finish up our review of the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal, which came out this year and follows the same arc.

Character design comparisons: manga, 1992 anime, and Sailor Moon Crystal, swiped from Impact Books.

I had previously been reviewing Sailor Moon Crystal an episode at a time, but I stopped because … well, frankly, I got bored. Hey, it’s not like anyone pays me for this. Continue reading “‘Sailor Moon Crystal,’ Season 3: The Final Verdict”

‘Sailor Moon R’ to U.S. Theaters

This news is a month old, but that’s hot-off-the-press current by my standards. Viz Media is releasing Sailor Moon R: The Movie, the most popular of the Sailor Moon movies, to about three hundred U.S. theaters.

The article at Fuse asks, “Do you remember watching Sailor Moon R: The Movie as a kid?” The answer in my case is no. I was probably in middle or high school then and was not watching cartoons. Although it means my magical girl weeaboo cred is about to take a hit, I’ll admit it: I’ve never seen Sailor Moon R: The Movie. My first time watching any Sailor Moon was in the uncensored re-release, so I’ve never even seen it in the hacked-up and bowdlerized American version. I was no longer a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons nor yet a goony college-age neckbeard when this franchise was making it big.

There’s a list of theaters and showtimes over at Eleven Arts. One of those theaters is … well, not exactly close to me, but close enough to make it worth making the trip in the name of nerdery, so I’m going to do my best to make this happen. Tickets aren’t available yet, but I’ll keep my eye on the prize. I don’t know what the chances are of its selling out before I get mine, but we’ll see if we can make this happen.

I’ll let you know as details develop. In the meanwhile, Anime News Network has an interview with some of the English voice cast.

Troy Tang on ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

Singaporean sf writer Troy Tang, who happens to be in my writers’ group, has a new blog, Thoughts with a Touch of Tang. If you’d like to get touched by Tang, I suggest you check it out.

Right now, he’s running a series on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2011’s groundbreaking and mold-busting magical girl series from Gen Urobuchi and Studio Shaft. His essay series is entitled, perspicaciously enough, “When You Wish Upon a Star: Hope and Despair in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” and there are presently two parts. In the first, he sets the series within the context of Urobuchi-sensei’s larger body of work. In the second, he uses Madoka to segue into a philosophical discussion of Søren Kierkegaard and the meaning of despair.

He also for some reason dislikes referring to Madoka by its title and instead gives it several nicknames. My favorite is Pouty Moulding Manchild Mistresses, though I would think that any sensible manchild would select his waifu from somewhere at least slightly less depressing. Mine is Duck from Princess Tutu, but that’s not the kind of thing I’d announce to strangers on the internet.

My own opinion of Madoka, to be honest, is that I’m sick of it. It’s an awesome series, unquestionably. It is easily one of the best magical girl shows ever made, and in some respects it is possibly the very best. But yeesh, it’s been five years, and as a result of Madoka‘s influence, the genre is still stuck in its emo phase. Let’s do something else now.

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 9 and 10

Let’s get this trainwreck over with!

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 9, “Notice of New Rules!” and Episode 10, “Super Hot! Back-to-Back Battle Events!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 48 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

Spoilers throughout. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 9 and 10”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 7 and 8

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 7, “Up Your Friendship” and Episode 8, “Sudden Event in Session!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

The first of these two episodes is entitled “Up Your Friendship!”

No, up yours, MGRP.

Okay, I gotta admit, my opinion of this thing has flipped once again. It took six whole episodes to get its momentum, but it’s finally picked up. Episode 7 is strong, and episode 8 is basically its second half. It’s good, because these episodes are mostly action, and as I said before, Magical Girl Raising Project works best when there’s fighting going on.

Also, it improves by toning down the ultraviolent gore, having apparently got that out of its system. It finds a balance somewhere between the bloodlessness of episodes 1-5 and the Evil Dead blood geysers of episode 6. It’s bloody, but not stupid-bloody.

Major spoilers from here out, since it’s impossible to discuss otherwise. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 7 and 8”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 6

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 6, “Get the Super-Rare Items!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

Screw you, Magical Girl Raising Project. Screw you and the talking animal mascot you rode in on.

The show, it appears, is not doing what I’d hoped, but is doing what I predicted. I now return to the opinion I formed initially in my review of the first episode.  Right now, at what I assume (?) is the midway point (and I’m well aware that I’m four episodes behind), I hate the show and just want to get it over with. I’m going to gird my loins, grit my teeth, and watch the whole thing—but only because it has “magical girl” in the title.

If I wanted a sneering, mean-spirited, blood-soaked, nihilistic magical girl story, I’d go read Magical Girl Apocalypse and at least get a few chuckles out of the deal. Magical Girl Raising Project doesn’t even provide the chuckles.

The last time I watched a magical girl anime this unpleasant, it was called Day Break Illusion, which, like our present offering, is an attempt to follow in the footsteps of Puella Magi Madoka MagicaDay Break Illusion at least has a tight structure: its creators clearly knew what their story needed, and they put the pieces together with workmanlike competence and efficiency. The result is respectable, if not exactly enjoyable.

Magical Girl Raising Project doesn’t even have that going for it. It is utterly undisciplined, and its scenes appear disjointed and random. This episode, which swerves into over-the-top gore, is an emotionless mess.

I’m glad I’m watching Revolutionary Girl Utena at the same time to remind myself that there are other, more intelligent ways to deconstruct or go “meta” with a genre. In fact, when I finish MGRP, I might go re-watch the perfection that is Princess Tutu to get the bitter taste out of my mouth.

Major spoilers after the break.

Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 6”